May 2010

I really wanted to make some homemade ice-cream, but remembered in the days how much of a hassle it was to get rock salt, and tag-teaming each other to crank the pail when one got tired. I was checking out reviews on which to get, and the price range. Surfing and calculating online for the best price took days and days. Through my findings a Cuisinart was a good maker. And having an extra freezing bowl would save time if you plan on making numerous batches of ice-cream and not needing to wait another 8hrs for the bowl to freeze up again before using. Low and behold, I walked into Costco and they had what I wanted and at a much lower price that I’ve been quoting.  Without a doubt I grabbed a box. The first step was to freeze the bowls, so immediately when I got home, I popped both bowls into the freezer. I immediately dreamed of the various exotic flavors to whip up. What could I make – green tea, lychee, ginger, etc ?

The next day I toasted up some sesame seeds,
and grinded them up with my coffee bean grinder along with some sugar.

Mixed in some coconut milk, poured the mixture into the ice-cream maker, and wahlah!
Made myself some home-made,vegan friendly toasted Sesame Ice-Cream compliments to Melanie from A Foodie’s Fall from Grace.
Didn’t know it, but coconut milk was a great substitute for the milk and eggs. And oh so easy to make was well.

Hmm, what other flavors should I make?


It’s been a couple years since I’ve had it but I had a sudden urge to make some Tang Yuan. These reminded me of the childhood days when my aunt that would have us over to her place to have a bowl tang yuen. Another symbolic treat, these tang yuan or glutinous rice dumplings are usually made around the time of Chinese New Year and the roundness symbolizes family unity.  I know, it’s not New Years, but oh well.

I grounded up some black sesame seeds as well as peanuts in a coffee grinder. Added sugar and butter, and put in the fridge to firm up.

As the filling was firming, I prepped the glutinous rice mixture. Recipes say the more you knead it, the less runny they get. I kneaded them for a while, I guess I just had too much water. Easily correctable with more glutinous rice flour.

Filled some with peanuts, and some with sesame.

It made a good amount. I froze the rest for future urges.

Prepared a sweet soup with rock sugar and ginger, and dropped the little balls in. When they float within minutes, they are done. The sesame ones were my favorite.

Amazingly easy to make. So many possibilities. I might even try a black sesame dessert soup, or sesame ice-cream, or even the black sesame rolls I use to have at dim sum outings.

I wonder what random urges will come up next?

I met up with my sister and her husband from Arizona at Las Vegas. I flew and they drove, so I got there earlier and had time to walk around on my own before they arrived. I scoped out the hours of the eatery and times for shows.

They arrived, we checked into the hotel, and headed to “The Buffet” @ the Bellagio.  My brother-in-law really wanted to go after seeing it on the Travel Channel. Beautiful for sure. I was so excited to indulge I forgot to take out the camera. We were there half and hour before Dinner began to get in for the Lunch Price as they switched over. Ingenious? I know! What buffet is complete without my favorite, prawns. I loaded a good amount of prawns on my plate. Prawn cocktail, a slice of pesto shrimp pizza, in addition to a plethora of other heavenly goodness. I was feeling okay and we went back to the room to rest. An hour later the hives decided to come around. So I guess I’m not immune to the shrimp allergies.

I needed to take care of the situation STAT, before our night entertainment of the Hip Hop dance crew, the Jabawakeez at the MGM Grand.
I was pretty cool because I worked with a couple of the guys in a movie a couple years ago.

So I gathered up the troop, and we headed down to the casino. Had it all planned out, to sit near the bar so the cocktail waitress wouldn’t miss us. Put in a dollar in the machine, wait for the waitress, order a white wine, get the wine and cash out to I head back to the room with my remedies.  Worked well, not as quick as the wine I had at home, but the hives did go away in time for our 1/2 walk to the show.

We also made arrangements to go to the Tournament of the Kings, a midevil times dinner show where knights jousted and maidens danced as we ate with our hands. Being rowdy was a must to cheer on your knight, and boo the rest. You know, when in Rome….

All and all, we had a great time and the trip was a success.

What? Cactus on sale? I grabbed 2. Never had them before so I wasn’t sure how much it would yield, but seemed like it would be fun to give it a try.

Took off the prickly thorns by scraping it with a knife, trimming the edges and then washed the paddle. Cut it into pieces, and the inside was a little slimy like okra.
Pretty basic with some tomato, onion, ground beef and cactus.

Served the cactus gumbo over rice and dinner was ready.

So cactus reminded me of bell peppers and was a bit tangy/sour. The gumbo was tangy as well, but could be because of the can of tomatoes involved. Felt pretty adventurous and now I can say I’ve had cactus before.

Had one of those days where my stomach felt like a bottomless pit. After I ate, a couple minutes later, I was hungry again. It was crazy, I even drank a couple of glasses of water in hopes it’ll quiet the beast that is my stomach. I needed some sort of snack to hold me over before dinner, but I still had like 6hrs. Haven’t stocked up the cupboards for some time with things that seemed appetizing, so I took a drive over to the local Asian market and found  some small taro roots. Took them home, washed, and boiled them until a toothpick was able to be inserted, probably took only 10-12minutes.

But I still had to wait to eat since they were piping hot!

Peeled and a sprinkling of salt was optional.

It went well holding me over until dinner which was broiled steak, with sauteed zucchini with steamed rice.

I love these simple meals.

It’s the end of the season for the San Francisco Ballet, but a congratulations is necessary for Vanessa and Davit. This couple actually danced as a pair for Romeo and Juliet, and at the end of the program, Romeo proposed to Juliet on the stage. What a wonderous moment, for them and the audience. Working right next door to the ballet has its benefits as I got to take in a couple complimentary shows when I had the time.

On to today, and even though I’m no mom, I love it too because I get to indulge in everything my Mom was treated to. Rather than cram into a restaurant today along with everyone else, we decided to make a home cooked meal. I had to work the entire day and night, so my sister actually did the all cooking. I just had to bring the guest of honor to the location, help a little in the plating, and preparing the dessert.

We had a steamed catfish, marinated thai beef with pickled onions, watercress and tomato, a 3-cup chicken dish, an eggplant with tofu and minced turkey, supplemented with a white fungus soup.We finished the catfish and soup, but only made a dent in the other dishes. We were stuffed, but we had to put down one more course – DESSERT!  We got a durian from an asian market. This thorny, distinctly strong odored fruit is shipped frozen from Thailand. I can’t fathom the idea of the first people that discovered the fruit, with it’s protective skin and intense aroma, and realized the flesh inside was edible. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the smell overpowering and offensive.

Vacationed to Thailand many years ago, I was shocked to see our hotel have a sign in front of their building stating that you cannot bring durian into the building. Oh, you can’t even sneak it in, as the smell is so strong, people will know! I can understand, as half of my family love this fruit, and the other run far from it.  I describe it as a sweet creamy pudding with it’s distinctive sweetness.

I was the designated “opener” of the durian. Slicing each chamber with a pair of kitchen shears, the thorny skin is carefully pried open as an “assistant opener” scoops the flesh out.

All scooped out, and this is how much this 7lb durian yielded.

We did good, but one piece too many, so we let the guest of honor take home the last piece.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

First day back, relaxing once again. Running some errands and snacking on the road.

Headed over to the family restaurant and left with one of their special appetizers for the day. Brought home a soft shelled crab with  lemon butter sauce and almond slivers. Paired it with a tiny grilled salmon with a roasted red bell pepper and ginger sauce and called it dinner.

Very low key plans other than going over the pictures that were taken at the video shoot, and catching up with lots of emails and blog reading.